Homily on the Meaning of the Holy Cross, by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes
My beloved, what does the Cross teach us? Take a chalk and write, like children do in school, 2+2=4. Thus, the Cross is the "equal sign", but what is it? Do you think that it is simply a piece of wood that we venerate and are saved? You are mistaken, because this is not how it is in reality.
The Cross equals forgiveness.
Because upon the Cross, Christ forgave His murderers. Are there today some here in church who are at odds with each other? Are there women who hate their mothers-in-law? Are there houses where people don't speak with each other? Are there neighbors that don't greet each other? Is there hatred? Well then, the Cross tells us today: "Forgive!" If you don't forgive, then don't approach the Cross, don't venerate it. When, within your heart, you have bitterness, you have this serpent of hatred, you can't approach the Cross. Because the Cross means forgiveness. You must forgive even your greatest enemy.
The Cross equals truth.
Even if they put a knife to your throat, and slaughter you, you should speak the truth. Not in the sense that you go to court and raise your wretched hand upon the Gospel and take a false oath. Not like this. Christ was crucified for the truth. Whoever says lies, whoever goes to court and takes false oaths, he is not worthy to venerate the Cross. The Cross, therefore, equals forgiveness, the Cross equals truth.
The Cross equals humility.
No--even though you might have a very large home, or more money or lands or animals, or if you have children studying in school or if you have a beautiful wife, or whatever else you might do--you should not boast or feel proud. You are not a Christian! Humility! Humble yourself to say: I am nothing, I am a worm, I am nothing in this world. However, when you have pride and you boast and you show off your body and your job and your money, then you are not a Christian.
The Cross equals love.
Is your neighbor hungry? Give him a piece of bread. Is he thirsty? Give him a glass of water. Is he naked? Give him a shirt to wear. Go and console him and wipe away his tears. This is Christianity. Not when you have everything and your neighbor has nothing.
The Cross equals sacrifice.
As Christ sacrificed Himself, thus we must sacrifice ourselves. This is what the Cross means. If you do these things, then you are worthy to be called Christians. But you who dip your hands in blood, you who take false oaths, you who are unjust to the orphan, you cannot approach the Cross. The Cross casts you out.
Read the life of St. Mary of Egypt. On this day, she went to Jerusalem and saw the crowd going into the church and everyone--old, young, women, men--were going to venerate. She herself tried to approach the entrance. But some power pushed her back. She tried and second and a third time, but she was unable. Why? Because she was a sinful woman, and she worked in sin in Alexandria. Only after she repented, then she was able to enter the church and she became a Christian in reality.
The Cross, my beloved, creates presuppositions. We must live corresponding to the teaching of the Cross.
And something else: You should make your Cross properly. Because unfortunately, in our faithless years that we are living through, everything has become fashionable. Fashionable hair, fashionable clothing, fashionable shoes, fashion everywhere. Unfortunately many in Church do it out of fashion. Unfortunately you see scientists, congressmen, ministers, prime ministers, and none are doing their Cross correctly. That which they are doing is not the Cross. It joking and mocking. It is playing with God. Do not play with God. How will they understand that you are a Christian? By your Cross. When you make the sign of the Cross properly, you are doing a whole prayer. Therefore, do your Cross properly.
And when should you do your Cross? When you awake in the morning, do your Cross. Are you going to work? Do your Cross. Are you going to your field? Do your Cross. Are you sowing, returning from your field, entering your home? Do your Cross. Are you sitting at your dinner table? Do your Cross. Are you going to sleep? Do your Cross.
"Though I fall, I make my Cross
And have an Angel by my side."
O woman, are you baking? Make the sign of the Cross in the dough. Wherever you go and whatever you do, make your Cross. The Cross is the "protector of the whole world."
(+) Bishop Avgoustinos
Imera, Kozani, 9/14/1965
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